Guest Opinion

Opinion
Jul 5, 2013
by WLJ

It’s a new generation at ANCW!

Most of us are born into this great beef industry and that is the same for me, too. We often hear, “I am fifth generation on this family ranch,” and I admire that very much. First you have to get along with your family, and that is no easy matter for anyone! So when I say I am a second-generation cattle feeder from Arizona—no big surprise. But how about a secondgeneration American National CattleWomen (ANCW) president? Not so common! So, yep—I’ve been coming to these cattlewomen meetings for a long time.

As I look back, these cattlewomen have been great mentors for me and I am very proud to walk in those footsteps, made with cowboy boots, slippers, high heels, irrigation boots, logging boots and even barefoot. I’ve seen them all. I guess that is what impresses me about these women—they cowboy with the best, cook like great chefs (I don’t, but they do), care for calves like a veterinarian, then take their car to the shop and tell the mechanic what he is doing wrong and why he is overcharging. Then, after all that, they tend to the errands that bring them to town: stop at the Rotary luncheon and tell them where their beef comes from; go by the school to keep tabs on what that teacher is teaching to their children and speak to a fourth-grade class about Earth Day, pick up parts for the windmill at the ranch, get groceries and be home in time to have dinner on the table for the crew. After dinner and dishes, they crank up the computer, get the agenda out for the next CattleWomen meeting and send some emails trying to enlighten U.S. legislators that their food does not come from the grocery store and yes, agriculture is vital to keep this country strong.

I took the reins in Tampa last February and to date, it’s been a tremendous year. We have a great team, the entire executive committee and staff at ANCW are all very committed to making a difference. ANCW organized in 1952 and today we are working on today’s issues, reaching out to today’s consumers. We have focused all our efforts into three key areas: 1. Beef Promotion; 2. Youth Development; and 3. Legislative Issues.

Beef Promotion covers many different events. Just one of these this year is reaching into the classroom. This year, our Beef Education & Curriculum Committee (co-chaired by Rebecca Bee from California and Barbara Jacques from Oklahoma) had Earth Day Kits available on our website and released their first “Bring the Ranch/Farm into Your Classroom” email newsletter! This was funded by industry beef checkoff dollars. This email newsletter will be sent to all ANCW members three times per year. The book ideas, lesson plans, and worksheets are to be helpful in going into classrooms. This newsletter will also be sent directly to teachers.

So if a CattleWomen member isn’t available to visit that classroom, the lesson plans are going directly to teachers. If you know of teachers who are interested in receiving ideas like these please, let ANCW know.

These face-to-face visits are so important. Last year, I was speaking to a freshman class of 700 students at the University of Arizona (not Ag majors) telling them my beef story. When I finished my presentation and was taking questions, the first one was: “Is it true at the end of every day you gather your cattle and remove un-used feed from their stomachs to save and feed the next day?” When I finally got what she was saying I responded with: “No. How long does it take to do that to 30,000 head of cattle on feed and why would we want to do that?” Her follow-up question: “If all the feedlots housed cattle like yours (she had seen photos of the big corrals, lots of room for all the cattle), how much beef production would we lose?” I assured her that all feedlots provided more than ample room for the cattle to move around at their pleasure. Sounds like she was getting some less than factual information from people who have our consumers thinking “factory farms” are a bad, bad place. They are ignorant until educated—we need to be at the table—telling our story. Otherwise, someone else will tell it for us.

Need some help finding useful resources to help you tell the beef story? Let me know.

ANCW is meeting during the Beef Industry Summer Conference in Denver, CO, Aug 6-8. All ladies are welcome to join us!

Go to www.ancw.org for complete details. — Barbara Jackson (Barbara Jackson from Tucson, AZ, is the current president of ANCW. She also is the Arizona appointment to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. She is a second-generation cattle feeder— but left the family business in the capable hands of her brother and sister and has made a career in the animal health business. She and her husband Tim Jackson own and operate Animal Health Express.)

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